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Father of alleged Sydney terrorist says he saw no extremist signs

The alleged Sydney church attacker’s father says he did not see any signs of extremism from his son prior to the stabbing incident where several suffered serious injuries.

On the evening after the attack, the father reportedly drove around western Sydney with a friend, and was “too afraid” to go home, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The man turned to Gamel Kheir, a lawyer and community leader, who suggested he go to the Lakemba Mosque.

Kheir, who is also the secretary of the Lebanese Muslim Association, told the Sydney Morning Herald he “truly was in shock, he broke my heart”.

“He said, ‘I want to see my son.’ He was distraught, in shock, too scared to go home.”

The father then spent the night at the mosque with Kheir, and a number of other attendees.

It was reported they were there to defend the mosque against firebombing threats which came after the stabbing.

There was disorder in the streets after a Bishop was stabbed at an Orthodox Assyrian church in Western Sydney.

According to the father, the alleged terrorist had been increasingly “disobedient”, however there weren’t any signs of his radicalisation.

“There was nothing he could see that he had gone that far down.”

The teenager remained under police guard in hospital and was likely to remain there for a number of days, NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb told ABC Radio on Wednesday.

The incident met the criteria to be declared an act of terrorism, which granted police enhanced powers, but it remained to be seen whether the teen would be charged with terrorism offences, she said.

The teenager’s family have moved out of their home following intense media interest and threats of reprisal attacks on Islamic religious centres.

After Saturday’s mass killings in Bondi, an attack on an Assyrian Orthodox clergyman draw hundreds in the street to riot.

“I think they’ve made a decision to move for the time being so they’re not the centre of attention about this,” Webb said, adding their privacy should be respected.

A candlelight vigil outside the church went quietly on Tuesday night and there were no related incidents reported across Sydney, she said, however there remained a risk as emotions ran high.

“The community actually needs to come together and just really consider this, this is one person acting alone and this is not about one community versus another,” she said.

Police were injured and paramedics sheltered in the church when a subsequent riot broke out as some tried to gain access to the attacker, who was being held inside the place of worship at the time.

“We believe that people not associated with the church have turned up as an excuse and become a riot that involved police,” Webb said.

Footage from CCTV, police bodycams and helicopters, as well as DNA testing of vehicles, was being used to identify those responsible for the riot.

The police presence would be bolstered across western Sydney and around places of worship for days as “combustible” conditions persisted, NSW Premier Chris Minns earlier said.

Chris Minns, premier of New South Wales speaks to media at Bondi Junction in Sydney.

The public was being urged to come together and act reasonably.

“Take the heed from the civic and religious leaders of this state who are calling for calm and an absolute repudiation of all kinds of violence,” Minns told Seven’s Sunrise programme.

Footage of the attack and subsequent riots were widely shared on social media, where federal frontbencher and Sydney MP Tanya Plibersek warned lies were being used to divide a reeling city.

The Sydney Morning Herald also reported the Lebanese Muslim Association would undertake an investigation into online radicalisation, and how to prevent people from engaging with radical content.

— with addtional reporting from AAP



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